Archives for July 2011
In college I learned about the four P’s of marketing: product, price, packaging, and placement. After college I learned about the fifth P of marketing – people! Relationships with customers, employees and vendors can be a strategic asset. Get them right and you’ll achieve remarkable performance. Get them wrong and you’ll languish in the overpopulated world of the average.
Consider the impact on performance the customer service representatives at Zappos are having. The shoes they sell can be purchased elsewhere for less money, but the experience of having a passionate and highly engaged human on the other end of the line proves highly profitable. Consider also the reports from consumers who call an 800 number for technical computer support – overwhelmingly it’s negative. On the other hand, the geniuses at Apple’s Genius Bar have raised the standard for computer support to near atmospheric levels. Both Zappos and Apple provide exemplary personalized interactions and they’re turning these interactions into extraordinary business results.
While leaders know that the fifth P of marketing is as important to their business success as the original four P’s, knowing something doesn’t mean it will be acted on. If knowing were the only requirement there wouldn’t be a need for twelve step recovery programs – addicts would simply need information about the errors of their ways and change.
Many leaders are addicted to the technical aspects of their work and have forgotten the importance of developing exceptional people skills to compliment their technical skills. In order to create strategic relationships that are an asset, here are my twelve steps for recovering technology addicts:
1. Admit that you are powerless to have people love your product and or use your technology without first understanding their needs and how they perceive and define value. Recognize that without becoming extraordinary at the people side of your work your life will remain unmanageable.
2. Come to believe that there is a power greater than your love of technology and or methodology, and that the restoration to sanity starts with the recognition that your customer doesn’t care about the technology or how it works – they care about the results they’ll receive.
3. Make a decision to partner with the customer in order to create a customer experience that WOW’s them. They are your partners – not a statistic to be maximized.
4. Make a searching and fearless inventory of how your customers perceive you. Are you credible, valuable, and without question the only provider they WANT to do business with? If not, why not? If yes, why?
5. After completing your inventory, willingly admit to your customers and employees the ways you’ve lost sight of the need for relationship excellence. Do so without playing the victim – accept full responsibility for your role in creating the current dynamics.
6. Commit to removing all negative aspects of your client interactions while accentuating the positive aspects.
7. Recognize you’re going to stumble and fall. Create accountability partners to tell you the truth and support your efforts to create the extraordinary.
8. Make a list of all behaviors that are negatively affecting your leadership and teaming capabilities and resolve to eradicate all of them.
9. Commit to accomplishing small good deeds everyday rather than espousing grand intentions.
10. Continuously and earnestly ask “how are we doing?” Balance feedback with feed forward thinking and admit when you get off track.
11. Create a passionate commitment to learning and growth. Cultivate a culture where “every” team member is “actively” working on creating the extraordinary at work.
12. After seeing the linkage between technical and people excellence, evangelize creating the extraordinary in every aspect of your work/company/department.
I have a few words of advice for those of you planning on leaving your department or organization due to a terrible boss. It’s never as simple as its made out to be – but here are four steps to make the process more manageable and effective.
1. Make sure you’ve had all of the conversation you need to have. While it is safe to have direct conversations with friends and family about what’s not working, there are frequently conversations we “think” we’ve had with our bosses that we haven’t had. You may feel as though you’ve been crystal clear with your boss, but have you had a conversation similar to “our working environment is becoming unworkable and overly burdensome. Without a significant shift it’s going to be hard/impossible for me to give you the effort you need from me. Are you willing to discuss how to rectify the situation?”
2. As you look for other opportunities, make a list of all the things your boss has done to make the situation untenable. You’ll find this list to be primarily populated with what you want to avoid in the future. Then, and here comes the hard part, make a list of all the things you’ve done and or contributed to make the situation untenable. Yes, your bosses list will likely be longer, but you’ve also got a role in creating the dynamics – it’s best to know what you’ve done so you can take steps to avoid recreating the same situation elsewhere.
3. Look for patterns. Being in the position of wanting to leave – is it similar to any other professional situations you’ve experienced over the last five to ten years? If it is, what’s similar? Leaders often continuously repeat a patter of behavior until they see it clearly. Transitions are a good time to check in and see if there are any patterns you need to be aware of and eschew.
4. Know there will always be another boss just like the one you’re leaving. That’s not to say you’ll never find a boss that is worthy of your respect; it’s just going to require an equal and or greater amount of effort and nimbleness on your part.